KARACHI: A Press Conference was recently organized by Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) to mark World Leprosy Day 2020 at its head office in Karachi. The event was attended by Mervyn Lobo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Ali Murtaza, Director Training, and Savio Pereira, Director Human Resources & Administration, Board of Director, Administrative Staff, and leprosy patients.
While addressing the audience, CEO Mervyn Lobo said that every year, approximately 400 new leprosy cases were registered all over Pakistan. Last year, 342 new Leprosy cases were recorded from all over Pakistan.
“Sindh has the largest number of leprosy patients. In 2018, 143 new cases were reported from Sindh, which accounts for 42%. On a national level, Karachi accounts for 59% of the leprosy cases, whereas KPK accounts for 11%, and Punjab accounts for 9%,” Mervyn added.
Mervyn Lobo further revealed that so far, 58,490 cases have been registered from across Pakistan, out of which 99% receive treatment. Every year, around the globe, World Leprosy Day was celebrated to refresh the world to pledge alliance with people affected by leprosy. “No disease in the modern world has faced a stigma of equal nature as leprosy. The MALC has been working to eliminate leprosy from Pakistan for the last sixty years,” Lobo added.
Dr Ali Murtaza, in his remarks, said that according to the WHO’s strategy for 2016-2020, three targets had been set i.e., Zero Transmission, Zero Disability in children cases, Zero Discrimination. “We all need to work hard to achieve these targets so that leprosy can be eradicated from the country. The key to zero disability is early detection and treatment. Leprosy can be treated with the help of Multi-Drug Therapy for 6 to 12 months, depending on its type,” Ali added.
He further said that after leprosy control, in order to continue surveillance and to ensure leprosy services in the field, additional disciplines were added, including Tuberculosis & Blindness control, Maternal Child Health Care (MCHC) along with Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) programs to tackle the situation. “We feel privileged to acknowledge the support of the provincial governments, along with our corporate partners and international donors, for the cause,” Murtaza highlighted.
Leprosy Experts stated that so far, the MALC has treated 221,165 TB patients, out of which over 89,000 tested with positive sputum, which can be a cause behind spreading the disease. Those patients were now leading a healthy life, as per Experts.
The speakers also mentioned that 200,000 eye patients have been facilitated free of charge, out of which 4000 cataract surgeries were also performed through the base hospitals and surgical eye camps. Every year more than 100,000 children were screened for refractive errors, and vitamin A capsules were given to those who have deficiencies.
Experts stated that three years back, the MALC also initiated a Community Based Inclusive Development program along with a Mother and Child Health Care program in the selected project areas. All of the services provided through the MALC were free of charge.
“Leprosy Control does not mean that it has been eradicated despite all these efforts. There are still many cases that can infect others. They need to be detected early so that they can be treated to stop further spread of the disease. This year, 512 leprosy patients are under treatment at the MALC,” Ali Murtaza told.